The outbreaks in Shanghai, Beijing and other cities are testing Xi’s acumen and authority before the Communist Party Congress late this year. While he is nearly certain to win a groundbreaking third term as party general secretary, Xi also wants to ensure the leadership is dominated by officials who will defend him and enforce his agenda. To secure that outcome, Xi wants to demonstrate serene political mastery, and until lately, the zero-Covid strategy has been a signature achievement: an effective, if expensive, and generally popular vow that China would avoid mass sickness and deaths… Now there is no easy way out of that fortress. Xi’s leadership has been so invested in showing that China could handle its own pandemic needs that the government held off from introducing mRNA vaccines developed abroad, which are generally more effective than the PRC’s homegrown vaccines.
by Chris Buckley